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CALLING OF SOME OF THE APOSTLES.
Matt. iv. 12—25.
12. Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee :
13. And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Cupernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon, and Nephthalim :
14. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, 8 saying,
15. The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: 9
16. The people which sat in darkness saw great light ; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
17. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent : for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Were these heathen, who are thus described as sitting in darkness and the shadow of death! On the contrary, they were part of that people which God had chosen for himself, who had “much advantage every way;" for
“ unto them were committed the oracles of God.” (Rom. iii. 2.) But those who professed to be their teachers, neglected or deceived them : their own corrupt hearts “loved to have it so :” and they were sunk in ignorance and irreligion. And this is represented as darkness : as the region and shadow of death. They are on the verge of destruction ; its very cloud overhangs them; yet this danger is concealed from their eyes, till a light shines upon them, the light of the gospel; bids them repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand; bids them review their ways, and directs them to “the day star from on high,' which God has appointed “to light every man that cometh into the world.” (John i. 9.)
8 Is. ix. 1.
9i.e. bordering on the country of the Gentiles; and on that account, perhaps more corrupt, more truly a land of darkness, than other parts of Judea.
May “He who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, shine in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ !” (2 Cor. iv. 6.)
18. And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea : for they were fishers. 1
19. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
20. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.
21. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the Son of Zebedee and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.
22. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.
23. And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, and preaching the Gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
1 Mark i. 16.
Mark i. 16–20. Luke v. 1-11.
24. And his fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy : and he healed them.
25. And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judea, and from beyond Jordan.
Multitudes, it appears, followed Jesus, attracted by his miracles and his discourses. Out of this crowd he selected, as his disciples, those whom he saw most fit for his purpose.
“He called them.” And such power of the Holy Ghost accompanied his call, that they immediately obeyed.
Do not however suppose, that in this call there was any thing so peculiar, as to make it inapplicable to ourselves. We are not indeed invited, we should not commonly be permitted, to relinquish our respective stations. But with this exception, the same call is made to every one of us. To us the gospel speaks in the same tone of authority, as that in which Jesus addressed these men of Galilee
; and there he himself commands us, “Follow me.” Believe me, as the true Messiah ; receive me as sent of God to redeem your soul ; yield yourself up to me as your Lord ; obey my commandments, and tread in my steps. Let no present interests delay you ; come, leave all, and follow me.
If there is any thing sinful to which you are attached, leave it. If any worldly consideration stands in the
way of duty, and prevents your “seeking first the kingdom of God," leave it, as you value your
salvation.—Such is the language which the gospel of Christ addresses to every living man.
But surely, you will think, there was thing peculiar in the choice which selected these apostles out of the great multitudes who attended our Lord. From the many thousand persons in that land, who were of the same age and occupation, these were chosen to receive and to convey the tidings of redemption.
But so are we likewise the subjects of peculiar mercy. It is equally the gift of God's sovereign grace, that we are called by baptism to be his servants; that the means of grace, and the hope of glory, are set before us. How many millions, how many hundreds of millions are there in the world to whom the names of Creator, of Redeemer, are unknown ! And “ who made us to differ” from these?
Still further. Of those who have been baptized in the name of Christ, are there not a fearful number, to whom, as far as we can judge, baptism has been a vain ceremony? who have never claimed the privilege of their birth? or even have “denied the Lord that bought them,” and, by rejecting his commands, have “put him to an open shame ?” If
any of us, then, are in a happier state; if we have resolutely taken up the Saviour's yoke, and are daily desiring to learn his will, and to be led by his Spirit: if out of the many that are called, we may hope to be among the few that are chosen; to what shall we attribute this but to God's undeserved mercy towards us? Whatever holy desires we feel, or good counsels we follow, or just works we perform, they all, as we are early taught to acknowledge,' “proceed from God:” and I am quite sure, that whoever has been blessed by the influence of the Holy Ghost, in putting “a new heart and a right spirit” within him, will join with St. Paul in saying, “By the grace of God I am what I am ;" whoever has “mortified the flesh, with the affections and lusts,” and “set his affections on things above,” has “ceased to do evil, and learnt to do well," in obedience to his Saviour's precepts, will confess, nay thankfully avow, "yet not I, but the grace of God that was with
To him then ascribe the glory. “ As it is written: he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” Every recollection of mercies received must have the effect of humbling us, when we compare what has been done for us with the poor return we have made. Let it also dispose us to seek an increase of grace, that we may prove ourselves sensible of the distinguishing mercy shown us, and walk more and more worthily of the vocation wherewith we have been called.